ACCOUNTS ABROAD - WILL THE PROTECTOR TELL THIS NATION?



  • 05 February 2018

    According to the newspapers, taking suo moto notice of the funds in the bank accounts abroad by Pakistanis, Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan observed that the money is a national asset to be brought back to Pakistan. FBR, SBP, SECP have accordingly been directed to submit details and the IB, ISI, MI and FIA were asked to share information.

    1. It might not be that easy an exercise, though certainly not an impossible. Who is an Overseas Pakistani (OP) and whose Bank Account is to be taken into account? I am working abroad since 35 years. My child works also. Both we have accounts here in which our salaries come and both we are legal OPs. To this senior citizen, SBP (our central bank), OPF, Overseas Pakistanis Ministry, FBR or whosoever, can’t in any way access to information on our two accounts with the National Bank of Bahrain. If our SBP refuses to the Federal Ombudsman, apex court or the parliamentary committees details of loan defaults on the pretext of “confidentiality of account holders”, my banker the National Bank of Bahrain, if asked for, would definitely refuse under the same confidentiality pretext.
    2. The accounts in national-discussion and in-question are those opened by Pakistanis abroad manipulating themselves as OPs and thus getting their accounts on the basis of their Resident Permits (إقامة). Under the mutual legal assistance with individual countries, though, academically such information can be obtained but it would also not be so easy a task. Firstly, our sitting Government would resist it. If perforce it had to do, the fate would be the same as what happened to the famous Swiss letter. 2-3 weeks after writing that, the Government informed the Swiss that their earlier letter was as desired by the Court and not the desire of the Government
    3. The “nearest” possible way is that the Apex Court may direct the concern to announce that all the Pakistanis living abroad or within Pakistan, holding Pakistani single or dual nationality, may within a month inform an appointed Committee/JIT full details of their accounts; viz account number, name & branch in Pakistan/abroad, in which country the account holder is working or had ever worked, validity of present Resident Permit, Passport and CNIC/NICOP etc.
    4. Simultaneously, with immediate effect “honest to their core” staff is put on immigration counters must scan invariably each page of Pakistani passport of “All” incoming or outgoing, having endorsed thereon any valid or expired Resident Permit or Long Stay Visa of “any” country. It should be made a continuous process. All such collected data, then periodically, be collaborated and matched with Overseas Pakistanis Foundation, State Life Insurance and Protector of Immigrants data. This match would upto 90% approximately reveal the truth if an إقامة holder was a genuine OP or “manufactured” himself as an OP only to get an إقامة to buy a property in a foreign country. To explain this – No Pakistani can go abroad on employment without payment of three huge Fees, official clearance and formal registrations with Overseas Pakistanis Foundation, State Life Insurance and Protector of Immigrants. Violation of this requirement fetched both imprisonment and fine. Names, for example, of Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif holding Dubai إقامة and AVM ® Shahid Latif owning property in Dubai definitely not without having an إقامة or Long Term Residency, be put in search of these three organizations. If their names don’t prop up as having officially been registered therein, it would an authenticated information that both became OPs illegally only to get their wealth deposited into Bank Accounts abroad.
    5. If we as a nation are really serious and not just, as is our national habit, playing “committee committee, commission over commission”, then the very first badly long awaited step is to touch the old “seizure of foreign currency accounts”. Today, since Hudaibya case decision last month, almost every evening we the ordinary in the talk shows learn that initiation of criminal proceedings never get time barred. Foreign Currency Accounts were very rightly and for a very right purpose seized. At the time of seizure, due to over enthusiasm of the OPs, there was a very large sum of deposits in these accounts. However, on the seizure the “deposits” did not serve as much the nation expected. This nation was not shocked at all knowing from the news, articles that the night this seizure was officially announced in the 08.00 pm Urdu National News Bulletin, earlier in the afternoon few hours, huge amounts from “elite” accounts had already flew abroad and allegedly as sometime heard in talk shows reportedly Nawaz Sharif family accounts were also in those flyers. Getting this list still can lead to the “required” accounts and owners of such accounts. It might look irrelevant today but it is the most important lead for true investigation. It will reveal modus operandi how within one or two hours process of withdrawal as well as transfer abroad completes right in the eyes of Central Bank. Hundreds and hundreds of semi or illiterate Pakistanis are apprehended at our airport on departure or arrival requiring them to show Protector’s stamp on their passports. When one replies the stamp is on 20 years old passport which by law is not required to be carried now, this is not accepted and is “unofficially” detained. The harassed OP fearing loosing his job abroad if not reached timely, empties his pocket which in effect had been the real intention of all this. People criticize verbally but has no awareness to officially lodge complaint. One such semi literate took courage when Immigration, as is usual, refuted the allegation. As the then ombudsman sitting on seat was a true public spirited person, he went on to CAA cctv and ordered Immigration to refund the money unofficially taken. Since we claim law applies equally to all, would Protector of Immigrants declare if إقامة holders like Nawaz Sharif and others allegedly often named in evening talk shows have all paid the Protector fees, are registered members of OPF.
    6. PNSC record room, if memories of this old man are not bent upon to fail him, “perhaps” thrice got fired; all on Sundays when the office was closed. An anchor more than twice in his talk show mentioned how much property the then shipping Minister owned in USA. And all these fires were during the tenure same minister. In recent months, different talk shows have mentioned about other similar type of “fires” destroying records elsewhere. May be on demand from the Court, it be found that there was “no record” with SBP and individual banks about “flying-out amounts and names of account holders” whose money flew out, very intelligent software today are available which can retrieve even the “deliberately” deleted or formatted data.
    7. “Flying out” huge foreign currency a few hours before the official announcement of seizure of foreign currency accounts caused a big blow to the financial stability of the nation. Coming into power, late General Zia promised elections within 90 days. When criticized on delay, he clarified he honestly thought he would be able to do so, but when he went into depth of the things, only then he found how badly the affairs were. Almost the similar thing General Musharraf said. In the personal view of this old man, in refusing to apply article-6 from the date when Musharraf derailed the “civilian” government, this seizure of accounts definitely has something to do! Legal experts advised HBL New York to defend the legal action by US Financial Regulators but the Bank refused and preferred out of court settlement by paying huge fine as its executive rightly “feared” during court proceedings those angles may not come in discussion which, if any, still were unknown. Article-6 from day one, might Musharraf?